PGA Tour AR brings pro golfing geekery to iOS


PGA TOUR AR shows golf holes and shots in 3D and augmented reality.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Watching golf is famously boring, but the just-announced PGA Tour AR app spices it up a bit. It brings a live, augmented reality view of golf games to iPad and iPhone, putting the tournament in users’ living rooms.

“Tapping into ARKit in iOS 11 allows us to showcase real-time data provided by ShotLink and CDW in a rich, visual way for fans,” said the PGA’s Rick Anderson in a statement. “The PGA Tour takes pride in bringing new technology to the sports world as a way of communicating to a large, diverse audience.”

Apple has been touting the augmented reality capabilities of iOS 11 since it was first announced,  and developers have been playing around with ARKit. Still, it’s an emerging technology, and one far from maturity. That said, this golf software is a good example of the potential.

A new perspective

The PGA’s app displays featured holes in 3D, and with live shot trails of players selected by the user. These appear in miniature on the iOS devices’ screen as if they were sitting on any flat surface.

The live AR data will begin with the opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Thursday. Those who can’t wait can review some shot trails from this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

PGA Tour AR depends on ShotLink through CDW technology, the tour’s longstanding scoring system. This captures real-time information on every shot, by every player, during tournament competition. This is then translated into thousands of statistics.

Many more features coming

At this point, PGA Tour AR seems more like a technical preview than anything else because the number of golf holes supported is so limited. At the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week, the only one is No. 6. During The Players Championship, just Nos. 16, 17 and 18 will be live and in AR, and there’ll be only one hole supported at the season-ending Tour Championship, No. 18.

Still, the PGA has plans to improve its software. An update later this year will enable those actually at a golf tournament to hold up their device in front of any hole and see shot trails for selected players live or during a past round of the user’s choosing.

The PGA Tour AR app is available for free exclusively in the App Store. There is no Android version. Apple says it’s compatible with all iPad Pro tablets and the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X.